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The Tweet on Birds

Winter is for the birds... literally! Now's the best time to sit back and enjoy the birds. Here's some fun bird facts and answers to all your burning bird questions:

How much do birds eat?
Birds have a high metabolic rate and an average body temperate of 100 degrees (F). They need to eat constantly to store up energy for the winter months and to burn off excess heat during the summer. Birds will eat their own body weight daily.

Do I need trees, shrubs and flowers to attract birds?
Birds prefer to live and eat in areas where cover in trees and shrubs is readily available.

Why do birds come to my feeder, take a seed or two and then fly away?
Some birds, like jays and nuthatches, take a seed or two and then fly to a perch to crack open the hull. They will then hide these seeds in trees and other places for use at a later time.

Why is all the seed on the ground?
Many birds do not like certain seeds and grains used in mixes. They will discard this unwanted seed while searching for more desirable seeds and grains. The higher the content of millet, milo, corn, wheat, oats, etc., the more uneaten seed you will see on the ground.

What do I do about the squirrels?
No matter what you do, squirrels will find their way to your feeders. Make sure to supply squirrels with foods they prefer such as corn on the cob or peanuts or a specialty squirrel food somewhere away from your bird feeders. Try to use bird feeders made with metal bindings or a squirrel-proof guarantee.

Why aren’t any birds coming to my feeder?
Make sure you are using the right seed mix for the birds in your area and that the seed is fresh. You should also ensure that you are using the right feeder to attract the birds and that there are not any cats or birds of prey nearby.

Where should I put my feeder?
Make sure your feeder is close to natural cover like trees and shrubs. Tie a small piece of tin foil on your feeder so it glints in the sun. The birds will have an easier time spotting the feeder.

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A Little Birdy Told Me

BACKYARD BIRD WATCHING

Beauty in the garden comes from more than just plants, it also comes from the creatures that make the garden their home. Winter is our favorite time to sit back in the warmth of our homes and watch the birds flutter about. Did you know that certain types of seed will attract specific birds to your yard?

The choices in bird food are enormous, but look for a simple mixture of seed -- black oil sunflower is the favorite of seed-consuming birds and should be the largest ingredient in the bag you purchase. Check the label contents, seeds will be listed according to the most volume. Black stripe sunflower, white proso millet, sunflower chips or hearts, and nuts such as peanuts, almonds or filberts are the basis of all feeders. White proso millet doesn't belong in a seed mix because the birds that like millet prefer to eat it on the ground. The feeder birds will throw it on the ground as planned, but this will empty your feeder a lot faster than you want. There are so many fun ways to invite the birds to your yard, here's some simple things you can do:

  • Sparrows, Juncos, Towhees and Doves prefer millet and eating close to the ground.
  • Chickadees, Titmice, Nuthatches and Woodpeckers prefer peanuts and it is better to place them in a feeder alone. Avoid peanut hearts in your mix as they attract Starlings, considered a pest at all feeders!
  • Chickadees, Tufted Titmice, House Finches, and especially Cardinals love safflower seed when presented alone.
  • Nyjer, commonly called thistle, attracts Goldfinch, Pine Siskin, Redpolls and Purple Finch. Keep this feeder away from the other feeders as Goldfinches prefer privacy.
  • Other treats birds enjoy are fruit. Orioles love oranges. Slice the fruit and spear it on a fence post for a cheap fruit feeder. There are commercial fruit feeders available, and some have a little cup to add grape jelly, another Oriole favorite. Apples and bananas are attractive to many species of birds especially Robins. Mockingbirds and Gray Catbirds love raisins. Their favorite way to be served is soaking them in warm water overnight then drain them well before putting them out.
  • Titmice love almonds, and Woodpeckers love shelled walnuts and pecans. Most of the larger nuts will not pass through the seed dispenser of all style of birdfeeders, so use a platform feeder.
  • Suet is great year-around for Woodpeckers, Nuthatches, Chickadees, Titmice, Gray Catbirds and even Pine Warbler. Suet is not processed, so it will not become rancid.
  • Bread and human food is not recommended for bird food. Bread has little nutritional value to birds. They have a different metabolism than humans and may not be able to digest the chemicals used in some human food.
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Housekeeping for the Birds

CLEANING FEEDERS & HOUSES

Bird watching is a simple, fun, and relaxing hobby that anyone, young or old, can participate in and this time or year there's nothing better than watching colorful birds flit around your backyard. Anyone can provide a cozy little haven where birds will come to feed and perhaps eventually live simply by adding a feeder and even a bird house. But it's important to keep feeders and houses clean to avoid serious diseases. To keep your backyard friends happy and healthy, follow these simple steps:

CLEANING FEEDERS:
For the cleanest, healthiest and most attractive feeders, clean at least once a month. Hummingbird feeders should be cleaned each time the nectar is refilled.


Clean All Feeder Parts - for best results and disease prevention, feeders should be cleaned inside and out, including all feeding ports, perches, lids, platforms and reservoirs. Feeder hooks, poles and any other part where birds may perch or where droppings may accumulate should also be cleaned.


Cleaning Solution - add a teaspoon of liquid soap to a bucket of water big enough for the feeder to soak. Soak the feeder and all the removable parts in the soap solution for ten minutes.

Cleaning Equipment - use a scrubbing brush and gloves to remove any stuck-on debris. Most Birdfeeder and pet supply stores have specialized brushes for different sizes and shapes of feeders; however, regular bottle brushes can also be used. Use an old toothbrush for cleaning small parts, feeding ports and tight corners.


Rinse Thoroughly - rinse the feeder in clean water.

Soak in Vinegar Solution - empty the bucket and fill it with clean water and four cups of vinegar. Soak for one hour.

Final Rinse - rinse the feeder again with clean water.

CLEANING HOUSES:
Now is the time to make sure your bird houses are clean and ready for the new houseguests. Most birdhouses are built so that you can take either the roof or the floor off for easy cleaning. Some have sliding sides, but most houses have some type of access for cleaning.

Empty out last year’s nests, and wipe the box down with a mild bleach solution. Replace the roof (or floor) and hang the box back up so it’s ready for a new brood of baby birds.

Seed Storing Tip: Keep extra seed dry, free of mold, and safe from squirrels by storing it in a metal can with a tight-fitting lid, such as a clean garbage can. Discard damp seed. In wet weather, put out only enough seed to last several hours.

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